Your Pastor Has Cancer; Now What? – Episode 245
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Pastor Greg Lesniewski
Published: January 16, 2021
More faith leaders are contracting cancer and it can be devastating not only for the pastor and their family, but also for the flock they lead. Listen as this pastor unpacks his journey.
Rev. Percy McCray talks to Pastor Greg Lesniewski, a stage IV prostate cancer patient, who treated at Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Chicago and currently has no evidence of disease. Pastor Greg shares experiences from his cancer journey and how he managed to lead his church congregation, McConnellstown Church of the Nazarene in Huntington, Pennsylvania after his diagnosis.
After being told the “startling” news that he had an aggressive form of cancer, Pastor Greg’s thoughts immediately turned toward his mortality and his family. But he also had to come to terms with the difficult task of having to “stand in front of the congregation, declaring a weakness, and asking for prayer from them.”
“My first prayer was for unity in the church,” he says. “That somehow this group of people was going to come together and not support me, but support their pastor, and somehow pitch in and show some strength, some strength that they hadn’t had before… and do things they hadn’t done before.”
Pastor Greg tells Rev. McCray how a second diagnosis drastically changed him. He declares, “I’m a different man today than I was,” and reminds us all that “a Christian cannot lose to cancer. The most annoying statements I could ever hear is, they lost their battle. A Christian cannot lose their battle to cancer. The Christian does nothing but win.”
Pastor Greg says that he came to the realization that his cancer journey was about more than the disease. “God,” he says, “there’s something you’re showing me through this.”
- “He (Pastor Greg’s doctor) gave me a life expectancy of 10 years. So as a 61-year-old man, given 10 years to live, my world was rocked. I was shocked, thinking of my grandchildren, thinking of my wife, thinking of all the things that just rush through my head of only having 10 years left.”
- “A whole different dynamic was going to be taking place because now I was going to be the weak one, requiring something from them (his congregation).”
- “And they (pastors) have to really come to terms with… do I want to be viewed as being frail, compromised, sick, even in some cases, viewed as not having enough faith, and why am I dealing with this?”
- “At no point in time did I ever blame God. At no point in time did I ever say, “God, why me?” I just accepted the fact that we live in a fallen world and that diseases come.”
- “I wouldn’t go back. I wouldn’t undo any of my journey, because I am so much better now.”